There’s a meme around. It’s as old as the Internet, and yet we can’t see it in the shape of a captioned picture.
In essence, memes aren’t only visual; they are ideas which virally find a home into people’s brain. Most interestingly, as any idea, they also drive people to act and react together (after all, we all smile at cute kitty pics, right?). But how can wee spot an idea in action?
When there is wind outside, we can know about it if we see dead leaves flying around, even if we cannot see the air movement. Similarly, we can spot an invisible meme by the way people react to it.
Now, look at your timeline. Take some time to read comments and post, and count how many times you think “Isn’t that person thinking?”. You’ve just spotted the leaves.
So, what’s the wind then? I’ll cut it short and tell you right away what I think it is: it’s the idea that acting without thinking is okay, as long as it’s online.
“Chill, it’s just the internet”.
There you go. Here it is. “Chill, it’s just the internet” is the invisible meme.
Only, the more I think about it the more I find it scary: instead of communicating what we think, we communicate what we feel before we’ve thought about it. Then, these half thoughts get reinforced by others who just follow the same pattern because, hey, it’s just the internet.
“What’s the problem then? It’s still just the internet!”
Memes are ideas, ideas trigger actions.
Memes are ideas which spread massively, and trigger massive actions.
A repeated action is a habit.
A massively follow habit, over time, becomes part of a culture.
Unrequited penis pics, online bullying, hate groups, successful fabricated news are all a direct result of Internet culture axiom that says “Chill, it’s just the internet”.
Memes are not confined to the cyberspace
Ideas know no frontier, they don’t stay online. They translate into what we do later in the street, how we see ourselves, how we vote… and end up influencing our way of life for better or worse with real, tangible outcomes.
Before anyone takes this piece too far and start crying censorship, I’ll like to emphasise on the fact that what we think is not the problem. The problem is whether we think at all seems to matter less and less.
As far as ideas go, the approval of action without thought strikes me as a pretty terrible one. A pretty terrible -invisible- one.That said, we can’t control anything but ourselves. So, personally, I’ll just remind myself to think before writing and stay away from stray photographic penises.